09 August 2013

Exotic Pets Overwhelm the Urban Animal Conversation

One can hardly imagine a more gripping tragedy than that emerging from Campbellton, New Brunswick, over the past few days. The apparent killing of two little boys (4 and 6) by an African Rock Python has been headline news across Canada and around the globe. Obviously the present focus, must in the foreground be to support the grieving family, while in the background experts collect the evidence and facts that can support an Urban Animal conversation.

Coincidentally, just prior to the incident (Saturday), the Globe and Mail Pet Project printed a discussion of the role of exotics and wildlife in society for consideration. While this seemed reasonable at the time, by Wednesday, social conversations had moved from the right and reason to own exotic pets (seeing this as trivial) to public safety. 

While the New Brunswick incident may be shown to be an anomaly in reptile behavior, for the public, a natural fear of snakes and a low level of attraction for exotics has moved the conversation to a series of questions:
  • Why are such critters kept in private homes? 
  • Why should pet owners to be allowed to have exotic animals in a modern urban municipality? 
  • What 'rights' are involved? 
  • What process will resolve conflicts between those who are eventually shown to have 'rights'? 
  • Who should lead this conversation? 
  • Which voices should be heard?
  • Can public safety be ensured with better legislation, licenses and compliance? 
  • Who should be responsible to enforce compliance?

While this conversation swirls around the internet, PIJAC Canada is hard at work ensuring that accurate information is available to media and the public. They together with their allies in the Urban Animal Industry had the foresight to prepare the PIJAC Exotic Animal Policy which has been used by legislators and enforcement officials across Canada.

It is clear this conversation must also come forward at the eighth annual Summit for Urban Animal Strategies in October. Summit Alumni and invited International guests will be challenged to sort through the facts and evidence during the Friday Forum to answer these questions and to develop strategy that will uphold the rights of people and pets while ensuring public safety.

Those who have contributions for this conversation are invited to contact PIJAC Canada or the Urban Animal Foundation directly.

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